MT Expert - Innovation: Colour as a business driver

The use of colour can have a major impact for today's businesses, says HP's Luis Casado.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The use of colour is not merely a question of aesthetics. It can make genuine business sense. Both empirical research and anecdotal examples demonstrate the importance of colour and the role it plays in individuals’ decision-making and, even, how it influences levels of success.  

This applies well beyond the world of business. Researchers Russell Hill and Robert Barton from the University of Durham analysed the impact of the colour red in the context of the Athens Olympics in 2005; they found that athletes dressed in red had a slight but measurable advantage. This was particularly the case with Taekwondo (red won in 57%of all match-ups), boxing (55%) and freestyle wrestling (53%).

Hill and Barton also looked at England's Premier League teams from 1947 to 2003. Their statistical analysis determined that football teams wearing red had a disproportionately higher rate of both winning home games and securing the title.  According to Barton, this is probably because of its psychological effect on both teams. He and Hill also suggest that, over the years, red might also attract more fans to a particular team, which in turn can make them even stronger.

Experiments with the use of red in a business context also prove revealing. One bank found that customer queues moved faster with an increased use of red in the bank lobby, and in a study of several hundred college students, a researcher found that they responded more quickly to directions presented under red light than under green light.  

HP recently commissioned research across Europe, the Middle East & Africa to examine the impact of colour on the decision-making process.  It found, amongst other things, that more than half of the respondents (53%) questioned in a green font agreed or strongly agreed with the statements, compared with 36% of respondents whose research questions were published in black.  

What’s more, using colour no longer comes with a price premium attached. Technological advances and healthy competition have helped to drive down the costs of both colour printers and supplies. According to Current Analysis, the advent of high-yield toner cartridges has led to a drop of between 5 and 10 percent in the cost of consumables over the last two years, while the greater flexibility of colour printers allows enterprises to save money by printing only as many documents as they need for each project, thus avoiding minimum print run costs typically imposed by commercial printers. These savings, they suggested, can result in a 40% drop in printing costs.

With the spotlight today focused firmly on budget control and increased productivity, the issue of colour as a potential business driver has never been more of a priority.  If the astute use of colour can increase visibility or the likelihood of generating a certain response, the concept of a ‘colour return on investment’ is a compelling one.

Luis Casado is EMEA LaserJet & Enterprise Solutions Marketing Director, HP Imaging & Printing Group.

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